Are you interested in literature? Do you like to read books set in Stockholm? Then we recommend that you go out and search for all of the city’s white signs with the heading ‘The literary Stockholm’ (‘Det litterära Stockholm’). It’s the city’s tribute to all the authors who have written about the capital in their books.
Last updated: August 27, 2020
Today, there are 70 white signs all over the city, established by the culture administration. You will find them everywhere – from inner-city streets like Hornsgatan, Dalagatan, and Strandvägen to suburbs like Spånga and Northern Ängby. The project, whose idea comes from Bertil R Widerberg, launched in 1992 after the Stockholm Public Library held a contest in association with the Stockholm City Museum. In this contest, the public should submit their suggestions of writers and literary Stockholm environments.
Stockholm Public Library – Photo © Stefan Holm/Shutterstock.com
There are many descriptions of Stockholm in the literature, and today you can, as mentioned earlier, view around 70 signs with quotes from writers, describing the city’s various environments. Each plate also provides a brief introduction to the author’s background and excerpts from reviews.
Broad mix of authors
Among the signs, you will find both the child and youth writers like Astrid Lindgren, Barbro Lindgren, Lennart Hellsing, Ulf Stark and Mats Wahl, as well as authors who have written classics for adult readers. Examples are Per Anders Fogelström, Åke Holmberg, Hjalmar Söderberg, Carl Michael Bellman, Nils Ferlin, Agnes von Krusenstjerna, Tomas Tranströmer, Elin Wagner, Moa Martinsson, Astrid Lindgren, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. The first sign was put up on 19 May 1992, exactly eighty years after August Strindberg’s death, on Mosebacketerrassen on Södermalm, and of course it had the opening words from Strindberg’s book ‘Röda rummet’: “Det var en afton i början av maj…”
A literary Stockholm sign – Photo © Hesekiel/Wikimedia Commons
To run into a sign during your walk gives a little extra spice and excitement to the place you are at. The signs sort of build a bridge between literature and reality. They make a seemingly ordinary environment transform into an exciting place when you encounter characters from ‘Doktor Glas,’ ‘Norrtullsligan,’ ‘Mina drömmars stad,’ ‘Ture Sventon,’ ‘Här dansar Herr Gurka,’ ‘Mio min Mio,’ and others.
Bring a guide to literary signs in Stockholm
An excellent companion and guide on your literary stroll is Vera Székely’s book ‘Nya vägvisaren till litterära skyltar i Stockholm’ (‘New roadmap to literary signs in Stockholm’). In the book, you not only get a map to the signs but also great presentations of the authors and streets. Székely also guides you to further reading if you would like to immerse yourself further.
If you don’t want to look up the signs on your own or navigate your way through the book mentioned above, you can also go a literary walking tour with 18 stops at the literary signs of the islands Södermalm and Långholmen. And while you are out walking in the literary world, we also recommend the City Museum’s walk on the theme Stieg Larsson’s Millennium crime trilogy. During the walk, an English guided tour, you get to follow in the footsteps of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist around Slussen, Mariatorget, and Mosebacke.
We wish you a pleasant experience in the literary Stockholm!
Featured image credit: © Stefan Holm/Shutterstock.com
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